Ronald Wilson Reagan

Speech on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative, March 23rd, 1993. Washington, D.C.

Good morning. It's a pleasure to be able to speak to you today on this tenth anniversary of my announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Above all I want to thank all of you for the hard work and perseverance you have shown through the years in supporting and shaping this very important program. It is as true today as it was ten years ago that this effort holds the promise of changing the course of human history, by freeing the world from the ominous threat of ballistic missile attack. Given the choice, shouldn't we seek to save lives rather than avenge them? I think we should. And indeed, now we can.

Ten years ago when I asked the scientific community to give us the means of defending against the threat of ballistic missiles, I said there would be risks, and that results would take time. Well, I'm proud to say that these scientists and engineers boldly embraced this challenge, and in only a few short years broke new technological ground in developing innovative systems capable of providing effective and affordable defenses against missile attacks anywhere in the world. It is a tremendous achievement, worthy of the great scientific accomplishments of this century.

As you know, however, critics of SDI from the very beginning have been all too eager to denounce the program (and if it weren't for George Lucas, maybe we would have been off to a better start). But over the years, these critics have been disproved time and time again. Today we know that we can defend ourselves, that the threats have not disappeared -- many new threats, in fact, are rapidly emerging -- and that Russia and our European allies have expressed their desire to cooperate with us in developing a global system of missile defenses.

This should be good news. Unfortunately, there is a stubborn contingent of policy-makers who insist on abiding by the obsolete ABM Treaty and support only extremely limited missile defenses, or even none at all. Yet I believe their efforts will not stop the progress we have made and the progress we have yet to make. The wisdom of the program we launched a decade ago will prevail, and America will not remain forever defenseless against ballistic missile attack.

Now more than ever it is vital that the United States not back down from its efforts to develop and deploy strategic defenses. It is technologically feasible, strategically necessary and morally imperative. For if our nation and our precious freedoms are worth defending with the threat of annihilation, we are surely worth defending by defensive means that ensure our survival.

Thank you again. God bless you, and may God bless America.